Re: Improvisation

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Posted by Pat Harrington on April 06, 2000 at 23:17:47:

In Reply to: Re: Improvisation posted by Ed on April 03, 2000 at 11:28:48:

: :
: : : It's my biggest weakness in bassplaying.....whenever my teacher opens up a section, I have no idea what to do, I have a small idea, but I don't really get it. People keep on telling me about the key and the scale, but I don't know exactly what to do with them. Can anyone help me?

: : Hey Denny....You've posted perhaps the toughest question there is; Ed's
: : got it right...The key to soloing is not necessarily learning scales and modes,
: : but chord construction; learning what notes exist in which chords, and
: : how the chords relate to each other in a piece of music, and how a *melody*
: : relates to the underlying chord structure. One of the BEST pieces of advice
: : I've EVER HEARD relating to this topic was from the master himself,
: : JACO PASTORIUS...and I quoteth..."The only way to learn how to play
: : bass melodically, is to learn melodic bass lines...A lot of bass players
: : just listen to a bass line, you know they're just playing (plays typical bass line)
: : " The bass players should learn all the parts to a song, the keyboard line,
: : the guitar line, vocal line, whatever"......GOOD ADVICE!!!!!.....Take a piece
: : of music, learn the parts OTHER THAN THE BASS LINE....You can
: : take something as easy as a Beatles tune, learn those melodies, and
: : start incorporating them in to your solos...A good source of melodies are
: : of all things TROMBONE LINES!!!....The trombone parts are bass clef,
: : voiced close to the upper register of the bass guitar, and usually not so
: : speedy as where a bass guitarist can't copy them...Don't get so overfocused
: : on just playing bass lines as to where you're not hearing what the rest
: : of the band is doing...ALSO....keep things in perspective, BASS is a
: : SUPPORT instrument...I listen to a lot of JAZZ upright players that DON'T
: : SOUND MELODIC when they solo....It sounds like they're just playing a
: : bunch of scales....Scales on their own, DO NOT MAKE MELODIC MUSIC...
: : They are only a TOOL, and a SMALL PART of soloing....SO, if you don't
: : have anything to say melodically....Take a solo on a song in which you feel
: : more comfortable with the chord changes....
: : Good luck and keep your ears WIDE OPEN....

: : Cheers,
: : Pat H

: Hmmm, being a jazz bassist I have to ask you to clarify your last remark. Which bassists are you talking about? How much jazz have you listened to? What players have you transcribed? How much harmony do you REALLY hear, right now? I know I'm hearing more know than I was 4 years ago cause I been working on it a lot. So, if you have come to your opinion after a lot of listening and transcribing, well I still disagree, but you are welcome to it. If you are saying that cause you aren't really hearing what's going on, well then get to work!
: If you are making this statement and have not seriously checked out the work of Jimmy Blanton, Paul Chambers or Oscar Pettiford (to name just three), then you have not gathered enough info to make an educated assessment of what "jazz bassists" do.


I've been a performing bassist for almost 25 years and a musician for
over 30 years...Starting out with piano, moving to woodwinds and brass,
and on to guitar and bass...My C/D and vinyl collection numbers in the
several of hundreds...Yeah, Blanton, Pettiford, Chambers...How about
Holland, Magnussen, Carter and LaFaro?...I could spit out names all night long..
These guys are the GREATS of the instrument, as are players of other
instruments as well....Miles, Coltrane, Bill Evans..On and on and on..
There are so many fine Jazz players, that's for damn sure...I've worked
through my copy of the real book with many trios, quartets, quintets,
the poor thing is falling apart...But I WILL REITERATE....There are
MANY Jazz bassists that I hear on L.A.'s Jazz radio station, KLON,
That DO NOT play interesting or skillful solos..There is a difference
between playing a bunch of scales, or purely approaching soloing
mathematically...and making a solo MUSICAL.....Yeah man, it's really
cool to know all those notes, modes, and scales..You can practice all
that shit until your fingers fall off...but to a great degree, music comes
from what you hear, and what you FEEL....Furthermore...Jazz is great,
and Jazz is fine, ( and I got slammed by a prominent bass instructor for
saying this)..But, Jazz is NOT the center of the musical universe. A very
large part of the world's population does not know about Miles, Dizzy
or Bird...Some of the most significant music of the 20th century came
from an art school dropout, and a left handed guy who could NOT read
a single note of music...Go figure.....SO, in closing, listen to what you
like, play what you want..BUT, music is ART, it is COMMERCE, and it
is COMMUNICATION...Sure, Jason Newsstead probably doesn't sit at
home transcribing Ron Carter solos, but he touches MILLIONS of fans
with the music that he plays..What he does is NO LESS VALID than
what Ron does...
It don't mean a thing if it don't swing.....
Pat H.

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